Toxicology report in, murder warrant issued |

Toxicology report in, murder warrant issued

Gregory Crofton

A South Lake Tahoe man is wanted for the murder of 11-year-old Claudia Torres, who, according to a toxicology report, died from an overdose of cocaine.

Police believe Jose Rodriguez-Perez, 23, hosted a party at 1232 Ski Run Blvd. on the night of March 26 and provided Torres, a sixth-grader at South Tahoe Middle School, with a lethal dose of cocaine as well as alcohol. Police said the cocaine was ingested, not injected.

Rodriguez-Perez and a group of teen-age girls, none of whom were friends with Torres, allegedly dropped Torres at Barton Memorial Hospital at 1:30 a.m. without identification. Doctors pronounced the girl dead at 2:08 p.m. after medical treatment failed.

Police interviewed Rodriguez-Perez the day after Torres died but did not arrest him because at that point they did not know cocaine caused her death.

“We’re convinced he’s taken off,” said South Lake Tahoe Police Detective Martin Hale. “We believe he may have gone to Mexico.”

South Lake Tahoe Police and the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office are working with the F.B.I. and have issued a fugitive warrant for murder against Rodriguez-Perez.

Rodriquez-Perez has lived in South Lake Tahoe for 15 years. Police said he was unemployed at the time of the party and they are investigating whether his income was coming from drug sales.

About 15 people, a mixture of teens and young adults, attended the party.

In a letter to the Tahoe Tribune, Claudia’s brother Adrian Torres, said his sister was an innocent young girl who fell in with a dangerous crowd.

“Claudia was an excellent student, a great friend and a noble girl. She had everything going for her…,” Adrian wrote. “I hope people understand that this senseless tragedy did not originate from a troubled family – a family who loved Claudia and will forever grieve her death – but from people who took advantage of a beautiful little girl who trusted them. May God have mercy on them.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.